In 2019, Congress approved raising the age required to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 to 21.
This past Friday, Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, signed legislation raising the Sunshine State’s age for purchasing all tobacco products—including e-cigarettes—to 21, which now lines up with federal law.
The push to raise the age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes came after the vaping industry was accused of deliberately marketing to minors flavored liquid nicotine, otherwise known as “vape juice.”
The same year the House and Senate approved raising the tobacco- and nicotine-purchasing age to 21, 34 deaths associated with vaping e-cigarettes were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Most of the deaths were likely caused by black market vape pens that contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
But THC-free e-cigarettes, also called “electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS),” have also been linked to serious injuries after catching fire or exploding due to faulty lithium ion batteries.
Hundreds of e-cigarette injuries have been reported, including second-degree burns, and more egregiously, life-threatening explosions. Consequently, lawsuits against ENDS manufacturers have been filed across the country.
E-cigarettes have been marketed by brands such as JUUL to be less addictive and safer than traditional cigarettes. JUUL accounts for approximately 75% of the e-cigarette market in the US. The company, which is heavily backed by Altria, one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of tobacco and cigarettes, may soon face an antitrust lawsuit.
Many longtime cigarette smokers use vape pens to wean themselves off of cigarettes. Anecdotal evidence also suggests e-cigarettes are more effective for eventual nicotine/tobacco cessation than nicotine patches and prescription medication.
Despite the promise of cutting down on tobacco and cigarette addiction, however, e-cigarettes pose the reverse problem in teens. Because of the allure of flavored vape juice, teens are at risk for becoming addicted to e-cigarettes. Teen vaping has become such a widespread problem that many health experts consider it an epidemic.
In addition to injuries caused by spontaneous explosions, vaping e-cigarettes has been tied to serious lung damage, seizures and strokes.
According to DrugWatch.com, as of July 2020, there were 758 JUUL lawsuits in the US. Dozens of school districts across the country have also filed claims against the brand.